AgDay Daily Recap - October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011 08:28 AM

OCTOBER 25, 2011

Good morning, I had a great time visiting with a lot of FFA members last week at the National Convention. Later on, we'll have the story of an FFA chapter from Wisconsin that worried it would be the last one they get to attend. Now to today's top story - the weekly crop progress report. Soybean harvest is nearing the end. 80% is now in the bin. In Louisiana, harvest conditions have been nearly ideal, but the growing season was not. The LSU Ag Center says soybean farmers in that state suffered more than a 100-million dollars in losses because of drought, flooding, and increased irrigation costs. Now to the corn crop. 65% is harvested, up 18 points from last week. And it's well ahead of the five year average of 51%. Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska are also moving at a brisk pace. But in the eastern corn belt, delays continue to plague farmers. That's especially true in Ohio where just 14% is harvested. The five year average is 41%. With 82% planted, winter wheat seeding is just two points behind the average pace. State by state in the plains, Kansas is ahead of normal. Oklahoma is right at the 5 year average, but in still-dry Texas, winter wheat seeding is now 15 points behind. Now to cotton – 44% is harvested, which is ahead of the average clip. In the delta, Louisiana farmers are nearly done with this year’s cotton crop. In Mississippi, harvested acres sit at 83%.

In Mississippi, some cotton growers noticed a higher incidence-than normal of malformed cotton plants this year. The condition is commonly known as "four bract squares". In this report from Mississippi State Extension, Leighton Spann says later-than-normal planting may be to blame.

In our Dairy Today Report, some key players in the U.S. dairy industry say the lifting of retaliatory tariffs by Mexico will have a positive effect on the cheese sector. As we first reported yesterday, Mexico lifted the final tariffs after the U.S. Department of Transportation issued trucking permits to a select number of trucking firms in Mexico. The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council say that U.S. dairy products on Mexico’s retaliation list will now be free of the 20-25% tariffs that were restricting access. According to our reporting partners at dairy today, Mexico had been the number one export destination for U.S. cheese exports. But when the tariffs were levied in 2009, shipments fell-off. That put Mexico behind South Korea.

In Wisconsin, there's a legislative flap over government's role in protecting the dairy industry. And it stems from the use of margarine. In September a lawmaker introduced a bill to rescind a law that requires butter receives preferential treatment in restaurants, schools and even state prisons. Some legislators want to get rid of the preferential treatment. But butter advocates say the repeal would undermine and insult Wisconsin’s dairy farmers. Repeal advocates say the state could also save money by serving less expensive margarine to prisoners. The law has been around for decades. It was an attempt to protect the state's very important dairy industry. Violating Wisconsin's butter law carries a fine of 100 to 500-dollars. But Wisconsin's department of agriculture says no restaurant has been cited in recent memory.

Bob Utterback

Last week nearly 60 thousand kids, advisors and parents spent time in Indianapolis for the 84th annual FFA convention. And while the organization is great at preparing kids for their futures--through competition, career development events and networking--there's also a little pride that goes along with being there. This year I met one chapter determined to make it to convention, on a year that most thought would be their last.  Great group of kids...and we wish them luck. Still to come this morning...would a star rating for healthy foods make you choose healthier options? We'll tell you about it. Food and Your Family is next.

In Food and Your Family how clear are nutrition labels on the food you buy? If it’s all Greek to you then the institute of medicine has a plan you might support. They're calling for a star system, similar to the one used for energy star ratings to rate the healthiness of foods. The medical watchdog group says a new standardized system helps us all make better informed choices. The institute of health looks at calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. Then based on levels the products gets a check mark or star--the more of either, the healthier that product supposedly is. Food groups say it’s hard to boil everything down in to something so simple.  Diet sodas might get the same score as vegetables while nuts and olive oils--both healthy options--might not get any. Getting the proposal adopted may take some time.

As Halloween gets closer, no doubt many of you are taking time to gut a pumpkin for this year's jack o'lantern. Well the pumpkin lobby says don't just throw those seeds away. Pumpkins seeds make a healthy nutritional snack. The innards are full of minerals like iron and zinc. They're also a good source of protein. While pumpkin seeds are most commonly roasted to a crispy brown, roasting does remove some of the nutritional value.

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